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The winner of the Carmen Mateu Young Artist European Award, Opera and Dance was decided today, 25 May, at Hotel Alma in Barcelona. The award went to the talented Helena Cánovas, who stood out from a pool of 39 candidates from 15 different countries.

Isabel Suqué Mateu, president of the Castell de Peralada Foundation, gave a speech in which she spoke of her desire to continue the legacy of the award, which bears the name of her mother, Carmen Mateu, “as a cultural reference point that promotes and raises the prestige of opera and dance throughout Europe, so that Peralada acts as a platform to help young artists advance in their professional career.”

The distinguished jury panel, which was made up of Raquel García-Tomás, composer and winner of the National Music Award 2020; Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Teatro Real in Madrid; Josep Pons, musical director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, honorary conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra, and winner of the National Music Award 1999; and Diana Syrse, Mexican composer and soprano, and winner of the Music Prize of the City of Munich (Musikpreis der Landeshauptstadt München), highlighted her ability to create an original compositional language with its own unique operatic voice, especially in terms of the relationship between music and text, as well as her theatrical and dramatic vision. Her exceptional talent and clear potential were also lauded, as was her approach, characterised by sensitivity, originality, engagement and charisma. The jury took into consideration that support from the Carmen Mateu Award will help consolidate her career in Europe, and promote the composer in Spain in particular. The jury considered that, in the future, her compositions could become an important voice, and make a contribution to the world of opera.



Helena Cánovas Parés, born in Tona (Barcelona, 18 October, 1994 and resident of Cologne (Germany), studied a Bachelor's of Music and Composition at the Higher Music Conservatory of Aragon in from 2012-2017. She then went on to study a Master’s in Music and Instrumental Music Composition at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne (Germany) from 2017-2019.


The new production:

The new opera composition should be performed by between two and five solo voices and an ensemble of between three and seven musicians, in accordance with instructions from Festival Castell de Peralada. The composition will first be presented at a future edition of Festival Castell de Peralada, and will then be included in the concert programme for the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Teatro Real in Madrid, who will co-produce the work.

The prize, €30,000 for a new commission, will be divided in three parts: the first €10,000 will be awarded to the winner at the prize ceremony; the following €10,000 will be awarded during the creative process of the work, at a time determined by Festival Castell de Peralada; and the remaining €10,000 will be awarded when the piece is premièred at Festival Castell de Peralada.

Cánovas will officially receive the award trophy at an event to be held in Barcelona in autumn 2021. The sculpture, designed by artist Santi Moix and inspired by the camellia flower in memory of Carmen Mateu, was made by Bagués Masriera.

For the second edition of the Carmen Mateu Award, the nomination period for the category of contemporary opera composer ended with a total of 39 entries from 15 countries. - Highlights included entries from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Spain—an unprecedented success, thanks to collaboration from Opera Europa, the European Festivals Association and the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers, who worked together to organise and publicise the award.

Requirements for candidates include being a maximum of 36 years old when entering the award; having built a career in opera composition, including proof of the première of one of their operas; being a citizen of a member country of the Council of Europe; or pursuing their career in a member country of the Council of Europe while being a citizen of another country.

After the deadline to submit nominations came to a close on 28 February, a committee of experts—appointed by the director of Festival Castell de Peralada and vice-president of the award panel, Oriol Aguilà—chose eleven finalists, who were then handed over to the jury to reach their final decision. The jury panel was made up of Karin Dietrich, playwright, librettist and director of the Frankfurt Institute of Contemporary Music Izm; Dietrich Grosse, director of New and Pocket Opera; Barbara Lluch, stage director; and Francesc Prat, conductor and composer.